Hiring for Experience at the Executive Level: What You Need to Know
There have been some major paradigm shifts in the way that hiring at the executive and C-level is done. The importance of culture fit and emotional intelligence are now highly considered, for instance. There’s also the trend of prioritizing potential over experience. Which can be a good thing, for some situations. However, it can also unfortunately lead to a pendulum swing that can veer a little too far away from the importance of experience as a candidate’s asset.
And, whether it’s C-level data and analytic recruiting or an alternate position, it’s doubtful that there is a job that exists for which previous experience isn’t a perk. The key to incorporating experience into the hiring metric is knowing what sort of experience is going to prove most beneficial and how to balance its value against the candidate’s other attributes. And sometimes the best way to ensure that those considerations are most effectively evaluated and implemented is by leveraging an outside resource such as an experienced recruiting firm that does so without bias.
When looking at experience as far as education, for example, one really needs to consider the relevance of the training received for the role at hand. After all, anyone in ecommerce recruitment is going to notice a candidate with dual degrees in marketing and computer science.
Additionally, even the most seemingly position-relevant experience can sometimes prove unhelpful and even detrimental. If someone has worked for two decades in a process or with hardware or software that has since become obsolete, that experience is going to mean habit-breaking and retraining. And not everyone is open to change or can pivot and quickly learn how to do things in new ways.
Again, the reexamination of experience as the end-all-be-all of candidate characteristics is long overdue, but it also shouldn’t be mistaken with dismissing what a tremendous asset it can be for any business. The benefits likely don’t need that much explaining. More experience often means less training necessary, usually a faster transition, and a realistic understanding of the responsibilities of the position. A more experienced manager or executive leader can often serve much more effectively as a training and mentoring asset, as they already have the skills and knowledge set that can only be gained by doing the work.
So, the pertinent question is: How do those responsible for hiring make determinations about the applicability of a candidate’s experience? How do they balance those eventual determinations against other qualities like drive, ambition, integrity, natural talent, emotional intelligence, culture fit, and so on when hiring for top executive talent? The best bet is partnering with the professionals—the recruiting firm that has the (applicable) experience, expertise, knowledge, and insight to both select and source a pool of top candidates and engage with the business in need of STAR talent through every step of the process.